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Newport Collegiate Baseball League Brings America’s Pastime Back To Your Living Room

Game Action From NCBL Opening Weekend – Photo Credit: Nicholas M. Bello

For Mike Falcone, there was a checklist that needed to be devised upon receiving proper clearance to go ahead with the Newport Collegiate Baseball League.

First and foremost, Falcone had to make sure the operation was in full compliance and current with the ever-changing coronavirus guidelines. Secondly, he needed to spread the word in hope of attracting top-flight talent to Cardines Field.

The to-do list also included Falcone’s desire to put forth a top-flight broadcast product at a time when the in-person, sitting-in-the-stands experience is not an option.

“Not only are the players yearning to get back onto the field, but it’s individuals like ourselves who enjoy tuning into a baseball game on a Sunday who are looking to help bring some normalcy back into the fan’s lives. That’s another reason why we tried so hard to get this going,” said Falcone, the founder of this four-team Newport-based league that features college players from Division I, II, and III.

All games, from a season that began this past weekend and will run until the final out of the playoff finale on Aug. 19, will be available free of charge on YouTube and Twitch. Starting Friday, July 17, Cox’s YurView will air the first of 15 games.

“It’s going to be great exposure, for sure,” said Falcone, who worked hard to put together an alternative summer baseball plan in the wake of the New England Collegiate Baseball League canceling the 2020 season. Falcone is the Director of Baseball Operations for the NECBL’s Newport Gulls.

“Obviously the safety piece is important, but there are other layers that I look at that I can’t help but smile when I think about them,” Falcone added. “Can we get a quality stream that’s not just a cell phone view and have quality broadcasters in place? The answer to both is yes.”

Game Action From NCBL Opening Weekend – Photo Credit: Nicholas M. Bello

Through the Gulls, Falcone says the technology was already place for an in-house broadcast that’s available at one’s fingertips. The Newport League is staging doubleheaders each Thursday, Friday, and Sunday (YurView will televise the Friday evening game and both Sunday games).

If you count the two bullpen looks, fans at home will be able see high-definition action through seven different camera angles.

“We definitely didn’t start from scratch. We already had a strong foundation in place and have been fortunate that we’ve been able to build it up year-after-year,” said Falcone. “We’re always looking to add technology. If something is going to help us accomplish that goal, let’s do it.”

For the players in the Newport League, there’s a tangible benefit to presenting the games to a home audience.

“My head coach [Ryan Klosterman] says he’ll be watching,” said Brandon Taylor, a North Smithfield native and member of the Bryant University program. “He told us that he’s excited to see us again. Plus, it shows what we were up to during the pandemic.”

Game Action From NCBL Opening Weekend – Photo Credit: Nicholas M. Bello

“To have all the games available via broadcast, it just makes everything so much better and easier for the coaching staff since he can’t come into the stands,” said Kyle Davenport, also from North Smithfield and part of the Roger Williams University program.

Falcone says there was a media team already in place for the 2020 Newport Gulls season. The lead play-by-play voice was going to be Thomas Zinzarella, a senior-to-be at Providence College who has past experience working games in the Cape Cod League. Zinzarella along with Tim Joyce – a student at URI – will be among the broadcast mainstays for this summer’s Newport League.

“We’re lucky to have individuals who have a passion for baseball,” said Falcone. “If you’re the parents of a college baseball player, this could be one of the last years you might be watching your child play the game. It’s a layer that you don’t realize on the surface, but it’s so important to get it right.”